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Concrete Soldiers follows a group of residents threatened with losing their homes in an area of London.

Concrete Soldiers follows a group of residents threatened with losing their homes in an area of London.

Concrete Soldiers: free film screening and discussion

When it comes to issues like gentrification and social cleansing, it is a good idea to learn from past experience to help stop it happening again. HOT’s Erica Smith talks to Rossana Leal from Heart of Hastings about a film which explores the housing crisis which is being screened at The Bridge Community Centre on Saturday 14 April.

The BUD Team - Rossana is bottom right

The BUD Team – Rossana is bottom right

Rossana Leal works with the Bottom Up Development Team (also known as ‘the BUD Team’) at Heart of Hastings. Together, the group plan events in the Ore Valley area. A lot of the events have been held on the old power station site – where Heart of Hastings are working with the local community and are planning to build affordable housing built by local people for local people. The team work together to put on events and make sure that the people who live around the site know what is happening.

00FlyerSide1Various events have been organised on the site – all with names like ‘Power Up Ore Valley’, ‘Warm Up Ore Valley’, ‘Spice Up Ore Valley’ and ‘Spook Up Ore Valley’, but the BUD Team have also hosted events at The Bridge Community Centre including a Christmas Party for local families. A film called Failed by the State has already been screened. This documentary was made by people who lived in Ladbroke Grove and is about the tragic fire in Grenfell Tower and how it has impacted on the community.

On Saturday 14 April, a second free film show and discussion is planned. The film in question is called Concrete Soldiers by Nikita Woolfe. It looks at an under-reported scandal in London and across the country — the social cleansing of council estates.

Starved of funds by central government, councils and housing associations are entering into deals with private developers in which, instead of renovating estates, they are being demolished and rebuilt. The developers make huge profits, but existing tenants, and leaseholders are squeezed out, socially cleansed from their homes, and often from the boroughs in which they have lived for years, for decades, or for their whole lives.

Concrete Soldiers focuses in particular on the experiences of those living on the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark, and Central Hill and Cressingham Gardens in Lambeth, the film exposes how councils bully residents into making decisions about their homes without proper consultation and also uncovers how developers have found loopholes to avoid building affordable housing.

There are already concerns about gentrification in Hastings – local wage levels are low, but rent and mortgages are rapidly going up. Rossana says “This film shows what is happening in London and could quite easily happen here. It’s important that our local community take control of the housing agenda. Screening this film is a way of creating awareness of these issues and starting debate.”

The film will be followed by a panel discussion about housing and how communities can get actively involved in ensuring that affordable housing remains available for local people.

The film starts at 6pm on Saturday 14 April at The Bridge Community Centre in Priory Road. It is a FREE event.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
For more information, visit the Heart of Hastings website: or visit the Heart of Hastings Ore Valley Facebook page.



Posted 19:20 Wednesday, Apr 4, 2018 In: Film

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